This enigmatic building, the only remaining symbol of Waterloo’s past, was used as a Masonic lodge and a church, at least through the 1940s. I’ve not been able to determine a date of construction.
Regarding the Masonic lodge, Jerry Camp writes: This building was on property sold by Waterloo Lodge, Number 506 of Free and Accepted Masons, According to deed dated March 7, 1936.
Roy Holsenbeck recalls its time as a school: I attended this school about 1943-1945. It originally sat by highway 32 across street from Looney Layton’s general store. The name I remember best is Mr. Widner, the Principal. He did all corporal punishment and had a paddle with holes drilled in it. (at least I heard) One of the most memorable things I remember was there were no indoor restrooms. The Girls and boys out houses were about 100 yards up the red Georgia Clay hill to the east. The grounds were all clay and rocks. Believe me we had no “school nurse to fix our hurts when we fell out of swings or off slides. I lived with my Grandparents Archie and Maggie Clements who farmed Mr. Layton’s farm just south of Waterloo.
UPDATE: I’ve learned that as of 25 July 2018 the building is in the process of being torn down.
Today marks the five-year anniversary of Vanishing South Georgia!
What began as a personal project has grown into something much greater than I would have ever imagined. In traveling thousands of miles through 82 counties and hundreds of towns of varying sizes, I believe I have been privileged to see a Georgia that few people get to experience in such depth. As I branched out from Ben Hill & Irwin Counties, I did search after search for little places with interesting names I’d found on the map. I knew most would be hard to track down, but one after another seemed lost and forgotten. Part of my mission, and one that remains central to this work, was to create a permanent record of these places for researchers and people nostalgic for a glimpse of their roots. As a historian, I was very aware of the need to document them, but what made my work take wings, so to speak, was the early support and feedback from the people I began connecting with as a result of my photographs.
And I’m not the only one out here, doing work like this. When I began posting my images to the internet I found a small but determined community of people doing the same thing as me, albeit it on a different scale and usually with far more credentials as artists. Too countless to name are all the other Georgians, whether serious or just taking snapshots for the benefit of their own memories, who record history with their cameras. As Mark McDonald of the Georgia Trust for Historic recently said in an interview with GPB regarding the scope of the work, “…in historic preservation, if you can’t save a historic building, the last step is to document it.” Tobacco barns, country stores, and farmhouses truly are vanishing every day and with them the way of life they represented and the stories of the lives built around them. Just this week I’ve heard from several subscribers of the demolition of places I’ve photographed. And I know these are important because people are always so sad to report this kind of news. I’m glad they do, though. As long as the need exists and I’m able, I’ll be out in the country with my camera.
My work on Vanishing South Georgia saved me, in a way. It came at a time when my own life was in flux and when I seemed to be looking for something as yet unknown. It’s renewed my love for place and for the people whose lives define all the places I visit and photograph. I hope that it brings a little happiness to everyone who sees it. That, as much as the documentary aspect, is worth it.
These old precinct houses, or precincts as most locals call these little buildings, are quickly fading from the landscape in South Georgia. Irwin County has as many of these than any other county I know of, and most have this same general style.